Chicago mysteries: what is the purpose of that little foot rest thing on the CTA blue line?

My guess is that you’ve all seen this on the CTA blue line 1000 times and still have no idea what it is or what it is used for.

Its a small square cut out of the right side barrier near the doors on most of the CTA blue line train cars. We’ve all seen it. We’ve all used it as a foot rest at some point. But what is it actually used for? It doesn’t look like it can be used for anything practical, but its in too much of an awkward spot to be a legitimate spot to put your foot during your ride. It’s only on the older CTA cars and it’s only on one side of the doors, so maybe that factors in somehow.
3 theories:

  1. It’s right in the train’s designated handicapped seating area, so maybe it’s supposed to be used to secure a wheelchair in place.
  2. Maybe there used to be a little TV screen right there? That’d be cool
  3.  A window for midgets who can’t see over it? (so they don’t miss their stop)

Really, I don’t like the odds behind any of those theories, but hey, I tried. I think it’s always going to be one of those unsolved mysteries of Chicago, that I’ll keep an eye out for. But until then, I’m just going to keep using it as a foot rest.


  1. Mail slot.

  2. I have never seen this, or maybe I have? I don’t remember but now I am going to have to take the blue somewhere to see this, is it just the blue line? I use to the ride the red and purple to school and never noticed it. I love the randomness of this post!

    • chicagoranter says:

      thanks for reading! I got to the bottom of this via twitter, and yes it is only on the blue line’s older cars, and turns out its used as a step for workers to reach the door mechanisms for repairs, so I guess I was half right! haha

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